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Engineering    2017, Vol. 3 Issue (5) : 753 -759
Research |
Methane Emissions from Grazing Holstein-Friesian Heifers at Different Ages Estimated Using the Sulfur Hexafluoride Tracer Technique
Steven J. Morrison1,Judith McBride1,Alan W. Gordon2,Alastair R. G. Wylie2,Tianhai Yan1()
1. Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, County Down BT26 6DR, UK
2. Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK

Although the effect of animal and diet factors on enteric methane (CH4) emissions from confined cattle has been extensively examined, less data is available regarding CH4 emissions from grazing young cattle. A study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of the physiological state of Holstein-Friesian heifers on their enteric CH4 emissions while grazing a perennial ryegrass sward. Two experiments were conducted: Experiment 1 ran from May 2011 for 11 weeks and Experiment 2 ran from August 2011 for 10 weeks. In each experiment, Holstein-Friesian heifers were divided into three treatment groups (12 animals/group) consisting of calves, yearling heifers, and in-calf heifers (average ages: 8.5, 14.5, and 20.5 months, respectively). Methane emissions were estimated for each animal in the final week of each experiment using the sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique. Dry matter (DM) intake was estimated using the calculated metabolizable energy (ME) requirement divided by the ME concentration in the grazed grass. As expected, live weight increased with increasing animal age (P<0.001); however, there was no difference in live weight gain among the three groups in Experiment 1, although in Experiment 2, this variable decreased with increasing animal age (P<0.001). In Experiment 1, yearling heifers had the highest CH4 emissions (g·d−1) and in-calf heifers produced more than calves (P<0.001). When expressed as CH4 emissions per unit of live weight, DM intake, and gross energy (GE) intake, yearling heifers had higher emission rates than calves and in-calf heifers (P<0.001). However, the effects on CH4 emissions were different in Experiment 2, in which CH4 emissions (g·d−1) increased linearly with increasing animal age (P<0.001), although the difference between yearling and in-calf heifers was not significant. The CH4/live weight ratio was lower in in-calf heifers than in the other two groups (P<0.001), while CH4 energy output as a proportion of GE intake was lower in calves than in yearling and in-calf heifers (P<0.05). All data were then pooled and used to develop prediction equations for CH4 emissions. All relationships are significant (P<0.001), with R2 values ranging from 0.630 to 0.682. These models indicate that CH4 emissions could be increased by 0.252 g·d−1 with an increase of 1 kg live weight or by 14.9 g·d−1 with an increase of 1 kg·d−1 of DM intake; or, the CH4 energy output could be increased by 0.046 MJ·d−1 with an increase of 1 MJ·d−1 of GE intake. These results provide an alternative approach for estimating CH4 emissions from grazing dairy heifers when actual CH4 emission data are not available.

Keywords Methane emission      Grazing dairy heifer      Prediction      Sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique     
Corresponding Authors: Tianhai Yan   
Just Accepted Date: 17 May 2017   Online First Date: 17 August 2017    Issue Date: 08 November 2017
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Steven J. Morrison
Judith McBride
Alan W. Gordon
Alastair R. G. Wylie
Tianhai Yan
Cite this article:   
Steven J. Morrison,Judith McBride,Alan W. Gordon, et al. Methane Emissions from Grazing Holstein-Friesian Heifers at Different Ages Estimated Using the Sulfur Hexafluoride Tracer Technique[J]. Engineering, 2017, 3(5): 753 -759 .
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